Protecting Employers Since 1985

Tomorrow’s Workforce

While the author is seventy-two (72) and probably will be out of the workforce in a few years (?), according to the United States Census Bureau (National Population Projection Statistics), Employers will be facing some interesting changes and challenges in their future workforces. Those “changes and challenges” will not only deal with technological issues, but with actual employees!

It is quite clear that by the mid-2000’s, the United States population will be a “majority of minority employees”. It is projected that the population of the United States will be over 30% Hispanic and over 20% African American, probably by the year 2050. This is a projection, based on the current birthrate statistics in our country. In reality, the current United States population of children under five (5) years old is a “majority of minority” today and, will probably be true of the under eighteen (18) population by the year 2020. Today, many companies are pursuing racial and ethnic diversity as an important means of improving decision making, attracting customers and promoting the social good. In the future, recruiting and retaining people of color may be the only way to stay in business.

While much has been made of the departure from the workforce of the massive “baby boomer” generation, while the workforce is getting younger, it is projected that the median age of the U.S. population will actually increase in time, fueled by both lower birthrates and the longer lifespan of the average American worker. There will be millions of highly skilled and experienced workers who will want to continue to work into their seventies (the author included) and, it is projected that by the year 2020, workers over the age of fifty-five (55) will make up 25% of the workforce. This figure was less than 12% in 1990. While individuals between the ages of twenty (20) and sixty-four (64) will still be the largest pool of potential workers (Millennials, Gen-Y and Gen-Z), the percentage of individuals over fifty-five (55) will be greater than ever and Employers who embrace this reality may have an edge over those who do not.

It is also becoming quite clear that the “new reality of the workplace” will be that it will include more individuals with disabilities. While the current unemployment rate of individuals with disabilities is approximately 10% (more than twice that of non-disabled persons), individuals with disabilities will begin making up a greater portion of the labor pool in future years. This is somewhat premised on the fact of the increased incidents of autism-related conditions, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorders and various other learning disabilities among children and young adults. The current statistics suggest that one (1) out of every sixty-eight (68) children has some place on the autism spectrum and that nearly 12% of children ages twelve (12) to seventeen (17) have been diagnosed with some variant of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorders. Employers can expect in the next few decades or years to see a new generation of high potential, well-educated candidates who may expect accommodations in the workplace as they have experienced in the classroom, with college testing and elsewhere because of their conditions. Employers who can adapt and use the abilities of individuals with disabilities will have a huge advantage.

The most successful Employers of the future who are competing for talent are the ones that will be adjusting their companies to make not only a better place for people of all backgrounds, ages and abilities to work, but who are flexible in accommodating talented people and identifying and promoting employees to management positions who can lead a diverse workforce.

Questions? Contact attorney Walter Liszka in our Chicago office at (312) 629-9300 or by e-mail at

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